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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Uriah Heep

Totally Driven

Review by Gary Hill

The current lineup of Uriah Heep has been together longer than any other lineup of the band. It’s the same lineup they had in 2001. That’s when they recorded these new versions of classic Heep songs. These versions have been rarities until all were collected and released in this two disc set. I have to say, as much as I loved the original recordings, I like these better. They are quite faithful (it’s still Uriah Heep, after all) but just seem to be fresher and invigorated. If you’ve ever been a Heep fan and have an open mind, you will love this set. I should mention that, while I’ve included this in the progressive rock section of Music Street Journal, not everything here is prog. Still, the type of audience that digs The Heep is very much the same kind of audience that’s into prog rock – particularly the old school variety. Not only that, but this does have a lot of prog built into it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1

    
Gypsy

This seems to have a bit harder edge than the original did way back when. The said, the original really rocked out for the time period. They lose nothing in this rendition. It sounds great. The instrumental section takes on a more pure prog sound, making me think a bit of a conglomeration of Heep and ELP at times. It really builds out to some amazing stuff as it continues to march forward.

Traveller in Time
This fires in with a more straight ahead rock sound. I love the vocals on this version of the song. This cut is perhaps closer to the original material than the first number was. Still, neither wanders far off its origins. I dig the proggy jam at the end.
Bird of Prey
Coming in like a band on fire, they work through some proggy changes as this continues. This does feel like a more modern retelling of the piece. Yet, it’s still instantly recognizable.
Sunrise
This is an incredible song, and always has been. The proto-prog elements were so far ahead of their time. The contrast between mellower and rocking sections is classic Heep. If anything, I’d say this version, while reasonably faithful, is so far beyond the original recording. This is one of the real highlights of the set.
Rain
While this ballad brings some variety, it’s just not up to the level of some of the rest. It’s mostly just piano and voice.
Come Away Melinda
Another balladic cut, this has acoustic guitar and strings at its heart. Again, it’s not bad and does bring variety. It’s just not really one of the better pieces. Additionally, I think it would have been better to put a rocker between these two songs to break things up a bit.
Return to Fantasy
Now, this smoking hot rocker is better. It has a lot of old school rock and roll built into it, but with Uriah Heep trappings all over it. This would have been perfect to split up the last couple tunes.
Look at Yourself
This modern retelling of the Heep classic really rocks. It’s another killer tune on a set that’s full of them.
Come Back to Me
Although this is essentially another ballad, it has a more full arrangement. It gets pretty energized. The female backing vocals lend some real soul to the piece, too.
The Easy Road
Again, they put two ballads together. I’m not sold on that idea here, either, but it works better this time than it did in the other slot. This has a more rocking 1960s vibe later. It’s a good tune, but not one of the standouts for sure.
Sweet Freedom
The organ heavy opening section here is very much progressive rock. It works out to a more full rocking arrangement as it builds outward. Overall, this song is one of the most prog rock oriented things here. It really does apply to me.
Why Did You Go?
More of a 1960s styled rocker, there is even some country in the mix on this thing. It’s not a bad tune, but it really doesn’t work that well for me.
July Morning
It might be an obvious choice, but this has always been one of my favorite Uriah Heep songs. This rendition holds up with the original throughout. It also surpasses it at times. It’s a powerhouse jam in any rendition, but this one is really on fire. This is definitely one of Heep’s proggier pieces. You know, by the time it’s over, it’s hard to believe almost eight and a half minutes have passed. That’s how great this thing is.
Easy Livin'
Another Heep classic, this version is quite strong.
Disc 2
                
Between Two Worlds

Coming in with keyboards, this thing rocks out after a bit to give the vocals a suitable backdrop. The mellower, proggy section mid-track is quite tasty. The guitar solo later in the piece is smoking hot, too.    

Only the Young
This is more of a mainstream rocker. Still, it’s recognizable as Heep for sure. It’s not one of my favorites here, but it works reasonably well. The chorus is pretty catchy.
Different World
With an AOR styled arrangement, this is pretty mainstream 1970s rock with some 1960s stylings. It’s a tasty cut, but again, not on the same level as some of the classics for certain. I like the chorus on this one quite a bit, too.
Love in Silence
This cut comes in with a proggy mellower motif. It drops to a powerful balladic approach. I love the contrast of mellower and more rocking on this. Sure, this is a bit of a predictable cut, but it’s just so tasty. The instrumental jam later in the tune brings some new dimensions to the number. It also takes it back into proggy territory. After another vocal movement they tear out into a full on prog treatment from there. 
Blind Eye
There is definitely an old school Heep vibe on this number. It’s also very much a prog rock styled piece. I love the organ and flute interplay later on this thing.
Wonderworld
Here is another with a lot of progressive rock built into it. It’s a mellower tune, feeling like a ballad a lot of the time. As it gets more powered up those prog elements seem to become more prominent in a lot of ways.
Stealin'
This is without question another Heep classic. It has a great balance between mellower and more rocking music. It’s a strong tune, and this rendition is pretty faithful to the original sound.
Time of Revelation
Here we are treated to faster paced tune. It’s definitely trademark Uriah Heep. It’s not anything particularly out of the ordinary. That said, it’s a great song.
Cross That Line
This is more of a mainstream AOR styled tune. It’s got some proggy elements at play. It’s more of a balladic piece than anything else. There is a rather Celtic styled jam mid-track that brings some variety to the table. They expand on that concept later.
More Fool You
Here’s a cool jam. It’s mainstream rocker meets that classic Uriah Heep song. In a lot of ways it’s a power ballad, but that doesn’t entirely do it justice.
Universal Wheels
A faster paced rocker, this feels both modern and like classic Heep. It’s also very proggy in a lot of ways, while still rocking hard. It really gets intense at times.
The Golden Palace
A balladic piece, this is very much a prog number. Of course, it’s also decidedly Uriah Heep, too. It’s actually a highlight of the set, as far as I’m concerned. It’s that cool.
Lady in Black
They close things with another old school Heep classic. More of an acoustic based rendering, strings add a bit of world music and classical edge to the song. They bring some Celtic things into it later, too. While I prefer the original arrangement of this piece, this one is a cool change.
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